Russian visitors could set all-time record - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Russian visitors could set all-time record

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Guam's tourism industry is preparing for the rush of Russian tourists that they hope will choose the island as a vacation destination. Guam could soon be as successful in the Russian visitor market as Saipan. According to Pacific Islands Club Saipan web marketing manager Elly Stoilova, the CNMI has already been Russia-friendly for the last decade.

Just recently, the hotel celebrated its 20,000th Russian guest. "It has been a really good market for CNMI Russian guests, as everybody talk right now stays a long time. Everybody benefits in all areas of the island benefit from their stay, and they like our islands and we have a lot of repeater guests. The repeater business for Saipan is about 30% at least for our hotel, so it means customers like our islands," she said.

This is good news for Guam's only Russian tour agency, Guam Voyage. According to president Vasili Mladinov, numbers are going to hit record highs now that parole authority has been approved as he remembers only booking 50 rooms his first year in business over three years ago. Because Russia's temperatures are a blistering cold at minus thirty degrees, Russians see Guam as a getaway for surf, sand, and sun just a six-hour flight from their home.

He said, "A lot of Russians from far east used to go to Thailand and the Vietnam, but most of them when they visit Guam they like it more because it's better, less humid than Thailand, and also people are more friendly. This is a U.S. territory its safe no political arrests like in the other countries."

According to Guam Visitors Bureau deputy general manager Nate Denight, numbers have been so high this holiday season that Russian guests have been turned away. "Chinese New Year and Japan has a holiday and Korea has a holiday around the same time, so what happens is it's hard for visitors to get rooms," he explained. "And a lot of these Russian families we've had about 100 Russian families that wanted to come out but we were only able to accommodate about 50 of them because they stay quite long two to three weeks."

"It's a good problem to have."

The new visitor market will come with its challenges, as Stoilova said, "Russian visitors barely speak any English - this will be a new destination for them. They will need help here to get over the language barrier, they would have in-house information destination, sightseeing information. These are things that Guam will have to prepare in order make the customers welcome and make them feel comfortable.

Denight added, "We've been reaching out to the Russian community here and we have several Russian speakers that are currently in the process of getting certified and setting up their tour agency companies to help handle the Russian visitors, so it's going quite well but we still need to improve our capacity to handle these visitors."

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